Monday, December 18, 2017

So, How Was Tesla's Purchase Of SolarCity Not a Fraud? (TSLA; SCTY)

We've been posting on this nasty bit of alchemy for years, some links below.
Today FT Alphaville's editor commends to our attention a Reuters article from Friday:

Tesla largely responsible for slide in U.S. home solar sales
(Reuters) - After years of double-digit growth, home solar installations in the United States are poised to fall for the first time this year, according to a report released on Thursday by GTM Research.

The reason? An analysis of installation data suggests that most of the slowdown is traceable to a single company: Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), which acquired sister company SolarCity about a year ago.

For years, SolarCity, with early backing from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, was the biggest player in residential solar and the driving force behind that market's supercharged growth.

When Tesla bought SolarCity last year, Musk called the acquisition a "no-brainer," saying the two companies shared "the same overarching goal of sustainable energy."
But under Tesla's ownership, the company has largely stopped its aggressive marketing campaigns and ambitious expansion.

As a result, Tesla's rooftop solar installations have fallen sharply each quarter this year compared to last. In the third quarter, installations were off by 42 percent over the previous year.

Tesla declined to comment for this story, but has previously said that while sales are down, margins are up. The company expects its fourth-quarter solar installation numbers to be higher than those of the third quarter.....MUCH MORE 
$340.61, down $2.84 on the day

Just a few of our comments on SCTY/TSLA:  
The Short Argument Against Tesla

Mr. Chanos was taken to the cleaners by Mr. Musk on SolarCity, had Tesla not bought it, SCTY was on its way to bankruptcy court. We have quite a few posts on the bad blood between the two, use the 'Search Blog' box search term SCTY if interested.... 

"Tesla cites performance reviews as it fires SolarCity employees, though workers say reviews never took place" (TSLA)
The question that comes to mind is: Was the acquisition of SCTY a fraudulent altruistic stupid brilliant bailout of the Rive boys and maybe even Elon himself? 

Whitney Tilson on Shorting Tesla (and other stuff) TSLA
April 1, 2013 
Why We Don't Short Tesla: The stock is up 16% On The Day (TSLA)
August 2016
...For the longest time we had a Don't Short Tesla policy because it showed signs of being a cult stock and cult stocks can kill shorts. Plus it can be very hard to locate stock and very expensive to borrow when you do,
However, after the SolarCity deal and Elon's purchase of SCTY debt (on top of his SpaceX buying SCTY debt) I'm more open to betting against the company, at least tactically if not to zero.
Remember, your mileage may vary, close cover before striking etc.


June 2017
"Einhorn Compares GM to Apple and Explains Why He’s Short Tesla" (TSLA; GM)
...It is just so dangerous to put valuation (as compared to fraud) shorts on in a bull market.
We have had a general rule, "Don't short Tesla" virtually since the IPO, that we've violated on three occasions, fortunately profitable but it is tough to tell if it was worth the risk.
Why SolarCity Has Become a Shell of Its Former Self Since Tesla Buyout (TSLA)
This is a $3,000,000,000 scandal and no one seems to care.... 

SolarCity/Tesla: Analysts React (SCTY; TSLA)
Not only is Tesla taking on almost $3 billion in SolarCity debt, it is also buying into the problem of even more negative cash flows, both Operating and FreeCashFlow.

Which of course, along with the corp. governance nastiness, explains why Tesla has lost almost 11% of its market cap, amounting to $3.14 billion on the 133 million shares out and more than the entire market cap for SCTY (98,296,422 shares at $22.30, up 5.2%).

The market is saying SCTY is worth less than zero to Tesla.

We'll have a lot more to say about this in the coming days....
Tesla-Solar City: Cousins Shouldn't Get Married (to each other) TSLA; SCTY--UPDATED

So, Who Will Write A Fairness Opinion On The Tesla/SolarCity Deal? (TSLA; SCTY)

 
More On SolarCity/Tesla and Fairness Opinions (SCTY; TSLA)
"Elon Musk Faces Cash Squeeze at Tesla, SolarCity" (TSLA; SCTY)

"Short-Seller Chanos Calls Tesla-SolarCity Merger 'Crazy': CNBC Conference" (TSLA; SCTY)   

Today In Depreciation: Does Tesla Really Understand What It’s Buying in SolarCity? (TSLA; SCTY)

Tesla, SolarCity Tumble Ahead Of New Merger Financials (TSLA; SCTY)
Attentive reader may have noticed we didn't cover Mr. Musk's press conference on the roof tile solar panels last Friday. We've been at the market long enough to recognize a master magician's "hey, look at this" misdirection. The tiles aren't going to matter to anyone for at least a year, probably two, and by then I would expect the market to have changed to the  point that they will be recognized as a niche at best.

The oohing and ahing from the assembled journos was kinda funny though; in a na├»ve, never had to bet real money sort of way.... 
"Wait, Tesla Motors Might Need to Raise $12 Billion?!?!" (TSLA; SCTY)
We've been thinking $6 billion to cover the build-out of the factories in Fremont, CA and Nevada and the New York SolarCity plant along with funding the higher cash burn after the SCTY merger.

And we were at the high end....
How Do We Know James Chanos Got Under Elon Musk's Skin? (TSLA SCTY)
Chanos has been living rent-free in Elon's head for over a year.
The departure this week of the second of Mr. Musk's two cousins, the Rive boys who had been running SolarCity reminded me I had promised another example of the toll the stress of keeping all the plates spinning may be taking on Elon.
In Monday's "Being Told Tesla Exists Because of Tax Breaks and Subsidies Drives Elon Musk Crazy (TSLA)" I said:

Regarding Mr. Musk, it is starting to appear he's a bit thin-skinned, we'll have another example later today or tomorrow....
went into a meeting and forgot until today.

Here's the set-up for this example. Back in the fall of 2015 Chanos was pretty vocal about SolarCity being the quintessential short-it-to-zero-stock. The company was burning enormous amounts of cash, had no path to profitability, and couldn't get anyone but SpaceX to buy their debt.
On October 21 SCTY shared their financials and we posted "Pray For Elon Musk: SolarCity Drops 21% (SCTY)".

The public relations people earned their keep with "SolarCity pivots to slower growth mode" and I recounted how earlier, in August, Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's CEO was told Chanos was shorting his stock and  "SolarCity's CEO When Told Jim Chanos Is Shorting His Stock: "First I've ever heard of the guy" (SCTY)".

Oh dear.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
SolarCity's CEO is an ahistorical idot.

I mean we're all idots from time to time but most of us at least try to conceal our idot-hood from the freakin' media!
Well, Mr. Chanos apparently took note of Rive's comment and the next day, while being interviewed on CNBC started out with "One of our big short positions in the renewable space is SolarCity".
The interviewer says "Elon Musk's company" and Chanos replied "Who?"

Here's the video if you care to see it, it's pretty funny: "SolarCity: Jim Chanos On Elon Who? (SCTY)".

Fast-forward to the week before last and, via Sujeet Indap, the FT's Lex US editor:

The Journal does a story on Tesla's need for cash,
One of the fanbois tells Elon not to sweat it,
Mr. Musk uses a variant of the 2015 trash talk: ...["never heard of them"]...


...The upshot? Elon got to use the line, the Rive boys got to say "thanks cuz" for turning their going-to-be-worthless SCTY stock into TSLA, I get to do this post and Chanos got screwed by the self-dealing bail-out but hey, 3 out of 4 ain't bad.
Plus, the TSLA the cousins received may or may not be worth the current price after the model 3 roll-out.
We shall see. 


And many more.
Thanks to Ms Kaminska for the latest heads-up